The European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) in Orkney is to lead a £2.2 million project to support the development of wave and tidal power in coastal areas of north-west Europe.
Stromness-based Emec said yesterday the new, 36-month Blue-Gift (Blue Growth and Innovation Fast Tracked) project would encourage “longer term demonstration and technology de-risking” across coastal areas of Spain, France, Portugal, Ireland and Scotland – the “Atlantic Arc” – boasting the highest ocean energy resource in Europe.
Blue-Gift aims to support a minimum of eight floating wind, wave or tidal demonstration-related developments.
The project is driven by a consortium of four ocean energy test centres, led by Emec, aiming to leverage skills, processes and expertise developed in the EU-backed Interreg North West Europe Foresea (Funding Ocean Renewable Energy through Strategic European Action) initiative.
Three Foresea partners – Emec alongside test centres in Ireland and France – are also in the Blue-Gift project consortium to help provide a “game-changing offering” to push the sector forward across Europe.
Access vouchers will be offered to support the testing of new devices and subsystems at two sites in Spain and one each in France and Portugal.
Emec said the development of ocean energy across the Atlantic Arc would help to stimulate economic development and reduce carbon emissions.
The Orkney facility will implement “proven Interreg project management procedures to ensure smooth delivery”, while also leading on test plan and verification activities.
Emec senior business development manager Matthew Finn said: “The Forsea project has been a resounding success for the ocean energy industry in the north-west Europe region; this project is building on the learning from that project and spreading that success across the Atlantic Area.
“The cost of pre-commercial testing and demonstration for MRE (marine renewable energy) is high and investors are reluctant to invest until the technology has been proven in the sea at scale.
“Blue-Gift will enable both in-country and cross-border access, ensuring that MRE technology developers are helped to select the most relevant test facility to suit their specific test requirements.”
Ana Brito e Melo, executive director at WavEC, in Lisbon, Portugal, one of the test centres chosen to host the project, said: “The vast energy potential of the open Atlantic coastline can only be unlocked by extensive testing, which is the essential step for technology validation.
“Blue-Gift can give a substantial boost to our sea testing expertise in Portugal. Due to direct collaboration with the most recognised test centres in Europe, we will ensure state-of-the art procedures and explore the most appropriate focus areas for our test facilities.”
A steering group of project partners comprises representatives from regional development and energy egencies including Highlands and Islands Enterprise.